COGNITIVE BEHAVIOR THERAPY CAN HELP OVERCOME FEAR OF THE DENTIST
Cognitive behavioral therapy could help many people with a dental phobia overcome their fear of visiting the dentist and enable them to receive dental treatment without the need to be sedated, according to a new study.
Anxiety about visiting the dentist is common and becomes a phobia when it has a marked impact on someone’s well-being; people with dental phobias typically avoid going to the dentist and end up experiencing more dental pain, poorer oral health and a detrimental effect on their quality of life. Estimates from the most recent Adult Dental Health Survey suggest around one in ten people suffers from dental phobia.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term therapy, typically lasting 6-10 sessions. CBT has been shown to help with a range of psychological problems, most notably for depression and anxiety-related disorders. Both cognitive and behavioral interventions have been shown to be successful in reducing dental anxiety and increasing dental attendance.
The latest study looked at the characteristics of 130 patients (99 women and 31 men.Three-quarters of those assessed scored 19 or higher on the Modified Dental Anxiety Scale (MDAS), indicating dental phobia. The remainder all scored high on one or more items of the MDAS, suggesting a specific fear of some aspect of dentistry. Fear of dental injections and the dental drill were the most common high scoring items on the MDAS.
Of all patients referred, four-fifths (79%) went on to have dental treatment without the need for sedation and 6% had their dental treatment under sedation. The average number of CBT appointments required before a patient received dental treatment without sedation was five.
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